flexibilizing your returniation.

I took this first photo from EasyJet flight #2888 today leaving Sardinia for Milan. The bottom one is not taken from the air, ha ha, but from the beach, and no it's not a perfume ad, it's Valentina enjoying a typical afternoon on Cala Golortizè in the Supramonte.

There aren't any fancy Photoshop tricks being used here (a little contrast tweak above to minimize the filmy look through the plane window...the below pic is untouched), Sardinia in August really does look like this. If it makes you feel any better, you can only get to this beach by boat or by hiking down a mountain for 45 minutes.

I'm suddenly kind of really busy with real life things I should be doing, but I'll try to get the whole story up here soon.



post #999.

Probably needless to say, we don't have any internet access here. I will expose you to a massive bulb of knowledge when post #1000 drops in a few days.



post #998.


nectarine, basil, parmigiano, balsamic.

2 nectarines
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 to 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 to 2 tbsp EVOO
1/4 cup shelled pistachios (optional)



tumble into the sea.

Is true, clicking here gives you the big map.

Yes, not much happening in these parts other than beginning Season One of Mad Men (is nice) and trip preparation. Below we are having the updation of le plan du travel. And oh yeah: my language skills continue to amaze.

Should it disturb me that I am suddenly the #1 Google result for just about every listing below? Or is this a corroboration of the guidebooks' constant reminder that "this is the last bit of unspoiled Sardinian coastline". And should that disturb me, etc.

Something completely undisturbing is that we'll mostly be drinking Cannonau in Sardinia, an often homemade wine featuring primarily Grenache grapes, and also featuring something like a 15% alcohol level. Proceed with caution.


  • Ristorante L'Isolotto. Via Ariosto 4-6, Lotzorai. Tue-Sun. Tel: 0782 669431.
    Isolated hole in the wall, but within walking distance I think, just off of Via Dante. Sounds good. It's in the Michelin guide, and there's one review here. Mostly seafood it sounds like? And: there is a veranda.
  • La Peschiera San Giovanni, Riva di Ponente, Spiaggia Cartiera, Tortoli-Arbatax. Tel:0782.664415.
    Quite nearby, but this may be overly ambitious (I mean volume-wise, check out the photos). It's a restaurant run by a fishermen's cooperative. Reservations supposedly essential in high season. Pics here. Write-up here. Here are some Italians talking about it.

  • Locanda Il Rifugio. Cooperativo Goloritze, Baunei. Tel: 0782.610599.
    This looks amazing if we are brave enough to head up there and then drive back after a glass of wine or two. It's kind of a toss-up between this and...

  • Ristorante Golgo. Località Golgo, via Bitzocoro 10, Baunei. Lunch and dinner.Tel: 0782610675.
    Very close to Il Rifugio, this looks like a must-do, Google turns up nothing but great reviews in Italian.

  • Ispinigoli, Strada Statale 125 km 210, Dorgali. Tel: 0784/95268 - 94293.
    Huge place, seats 500, not its most attractive feature, but it is recommended by Osterie d'Italia.

  • Agriturismo I Mandorli, Loc. Arcisitzo, Triei.Tel: 0782 646787.
    Looks beautiful, can't find any reviews of it. Might be our Special Occasion choice, however, due to location.

  • Agriturismo Nuraghe Mannu, Cala Gonone, Dorgali.
    Another must-reserve, this one because the restaurant is mostly for overnight guests.

  • Bar L'Olivastro. Via Lungomare Montesanto 1, Baunei.
    Open 07:30-02:00 everyday it looks like. Panini, ice cream, booze.

  • Il Pescatore, Via Acqua Dolce 7, Cala Gonone, Dorgali.
    Um, overpriced and average according to English speakers, but Italians seem to like it.

  • Hotel Pop. Piazza del Porto, Cala Gonone, Dorgali. Tel: 078493185.
    Yes, a hotel, but apparently at dinnertime it's full of locals. Lots and lots of good reviews.

  • Star 2. Via Lungomare, Arbatax.
    Varied reviews, should probably be thought of as a pizza joint.



the hedonic value of sucrose.

Above: Lanskroon tabletop.

One of the things I've been missing over the past few weeks is what we 'mericans would call ketchup. In non-dieting life, I don't necessarily eat a lot of candy or dessert, but I do favor condiments from the sweet 'n' sour side of the tracks. I had been doing pretty well, but Week Three of Serious Dieting proved to be too much for my dopamine receptors and I went a bit sugar-mad. I ended up keeping it together, but it was tough work. Apparently I have my reasons.

So I'm working on a sugarfree ketchup. What I'm finding with stevia is that it's possible to minimize your disappointment with its non-sugary qualities if you's a crafty mother. I have some theories that involve acidity, tongue distraction, bitterness, and taste buds, but I need to see if someone else has written about them before I do any real work.

First batch of ketchup was tonight, a bit too spicy. More in a bit.


spicy 'mater ketchup.

4 canned tomatoes
1/2 cup apple vinegar
1 onion
1 tsp garlic powder
tiny pinch cinnamon
tiny pinch allspice
tiny pinch cloves
some amount of stevia
some amount of Surinaamse x-hot sambal


thinking triple x.

Brief notes on this rainy Monday:

1) Blogger continues to be one of the most annoying pieces of software written this century. iTunes is still solidly in 1st place.

2) Stevia is proving useful in coffee and homemade pickles, otherwise jury remains out. I really wish it worked like sugar in desserts, but yeah, it doesn't: here's a useful writeup of some stevia dos and don'ts .

3) Budget peach-ripening plan worked, all it took was one night wrapped in a linen tea towel on the counter.



peach, habanero, mint salsa.

2 firm but ripe peaches, diced
1 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 to 2 tsp habanero/adjoema/Madame Jeanette, minced
juice of two limes
1 tbsp fresh mint, minced
1 tbsp cilantro, minced
salt to taste

This is good enough to eat by itself (that's one reason there's so much of it), but last night we served it on almond-crusted catfish with thyme, allspice, nutmeg, and black pepper. Tasted great, cooking process was a bit fucked. Need to check on how one is supposed to do a pure nut crust without burning the shit out of it. Don't think I didn't notice the phrase "pure nut crust".



Went to Rotterdam last night to see a gig by two very different instrument builders, each distinctive in approach but with ultimately similar results: kinda fascinating sound-generation process, kinda not-so-interesting-to-stand-around-and-watch music, a bit too repetitive.

But yes, the tolerability of your repetitiveness depends critically on what you're repeating. Sometimes eez not so bad:

Disappointing music notwithstanding, I was reminded again how much I like visiting Rotterdam for its totally different, big, urban, and adult feel. You'll always hear that it's not a beautiful city, but I don't know, I always find it to be a refreshingly different version of urban Dutchness whenever I'm rubbing up against the smallness of Amsterdam. Which I wasn't.

I didn't eat anything there this time, but if I did, it would've been fried chicken. Rotterdam has a surprising number of fried chicken places...anyone know why? No smart answers. Unless that's the right answer, I guess.

This is the Weenahuis. Really. Click on it if you don't believe me.


ain't that a peach.

The Dirk has 12 peaches for €2.49 today, something you don't often see in these parts. Only trouble is, they ain't ripe yet. This looks like the right way to solve that problem.

This might be a good excuse to do a peach and bourbon cobbler. Or a sour cream and peach pie. Leftovers will go into a peach vinaigrette.


my signal turn from green to red.

This is a bit of a weird one for us, but we had all of these ingredients that needed using. You may remember me oven-roasting a bucket of tomatoes the other day. Today I liquified these in a food processor and made a vinaigrette with them. Also, I believe I mentioned the overly-enthusiastic almond purchase from the Maroc; with these I made a basil-almond pesto that took me right back to my first taste of real Italian pesto in Liguria, March 2000.

I have no idea what I did right with this pesto: I didn't use any cheese (diet), I just used like a cup of roasted almonds, a cup of basil, 1/3 of a cup olive oil, a big ol' garlic clove, and a lot of salt, and it's just awesomely fantastic. So, the end resulting dish pictured above is something like pesto shrimp in an oven-roasted tomato vinaigrette over arugula.

See? Totally not our normal territory. And if this was a sandwich it would be roughly 97 times better, but the shrimp themselves are a total keeper, and the vinaigrette's pretty good too.



nothing to report.

€4.50 train to beach, €2 herring, the usual budget-minded half-asceticism. Still dieting. Etc.


I did finally have a chocolate breakdown last night. I just had to do it so I could stop thinking about it. So I bought a Lovechock bar for the first time, because they're "healthy": raw cocoa nibs, buckwheat, sea salt and agave syrup, etc. They're also shockingly expensive, which is I why I've never bought one before: €3.00 for 40 grams of chocolate.

Hard to tell if they need to be that expensive or not. How did it taste? Well, considering that I haven't had any sugar or chocolate-related things for about 3 weeks now (I did have some pickles with my herring, that's about the only sugar I've had lately), the Lovejoy tasted like a long-anticipated conjugal visit after the first few lonely years of a 7-to-10 stint in a desert island prison.

What? I'm sure I don't mean that literally (eww). I barely know what I mean, never having been in prison or, really, on a desert island I don't think. Definitely never both simultaneously. I'm skirting the issue, aren't I.

Another time. The chocolate. Very unsweet. Very healthy-tasting, and I don't necessarily mean this as a compliment. But: since its "healthiness" was the reason I shelled out big dollahs for it, I have to ask myself if the overall effort was successful, if we consider the goals: 1) satisfy chocolate craving 2) without feeling too bad about it. So, yes. I guess it was. Would I rather eat a Lovejoy than a comparably-priced Vahlrona or Dolfijn or Scharffenberger bar? Absolutely not.

Two more weeks of full-on fitness.



almond joy.

We toasted a lot of almonds tonight.

I went on a bit of a shopping spree today. I guess I finally cracked due to lack of sugar and alcohol. That's the bad news. The good news is that my cracking didn't involve either sugar or alcohol. And several people have asked me what I'm doing to myself because I look healthy-ish.

Maybe I even believe them. I'll believe "healthy but tired". I'm not really sleeping enough. Luckily I cancelled my Sept 1st OT301 solo gig, so I have zero brainpower-requiring things to accomplish this month, what a smart man I seem to be when allowed to cancel things in an unfettered manner.


So today I bought, among other things: a frozen duck; miso; sake; mint; 500 almonds; lots of fresh dates; and a bag of chestnut flour from the Maroc because it was surprisingly cheap.

But what the fuck am I going to do with chestnut flour. Castagnaccio (recipe here)? I didn't love it when we lived in Siena, and believe me I tried because in autumn it was everywhere. But I am a bit desperate for a bread-like substance at the moment, so a small batch may be attempted.


Oh right. Here's a very informative article/interview about flaxseed.



Mara's strawberry-rhubarb cone from Lanskroon. My habanero-basil pico de gallo for tonight's almond-crusted catfish, also w/red cabbage + tahini + special guest chipotle slaw. Pretty darn good for diet food.


habanero-basil pico de gallo.

2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1 scallion, chopped fine
1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
1 to 2 tsp fresh habanero chile, minced
juice of two limes
plenty of salt



commence research period.

Yis, you are clicking here to view in ze ol' Google Maps.

Maybe I haven't mentioned this: in two weeks we're going to Sardinia for a week of beaching and eating and, yes, even drinking. Andy and Valentina have done a lot of research already, but I am suddenly confronted with the fact that, even at my ripe old age, I am still not comfortable going somewhere interesting without doing my own research.

So, here comes some.


In other news, stevia is not sugar. Or even remotely sugar-like. It's so different from sugar that it doesn't even come close to satisfying my cravings for something sweet.

I mean, it is a kind of sweet, but there is something distinct about the way it interacts with your tongue, like the wrong taste buds are firing or something. Mara made some coconut macaroons with stevia today, and, yes, they were pretty good for sugarless cookies, I guess, but...you'd never mistake them for normal human cookies.


TONIGHT: maybe start some fish with miso a-marinatin'.


Do we really need any more tuna recipes on this site? Not if they're basically the same old recipe again plus or minus a few ingredients. And yet:


tuna, celery, green apple.

1 can Spanish tuna in oil, drained
1/4 cup sweet onion
1 celery stalk
1/2 Granny Smith apple
1 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp apple vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste




If anyone's idly wondering what happened to that "going all the way" we talked about, well: as usual, as the moments of extreme crisis recede into the background and a more placid atmosphere prevails, you start to think, "What was all the hubbub about? I feel fine now."

More soon. Until then, today's kitchen activity: red balls. Or oven-dried tomatoes, whatever you want to call them.



p!nk sauce.

Wanted to make some food for a boat ride today, a boat ride that may not actually happen now due to inclement weather. The food, however, is already made, and it's all pink. Not on purpose, but the intersection of my diet and the raw materials in my refrigerator led me unblinkingly down a path to pinkness. Or maybe it's Gay Pride Weekend sneaking its way into our food. The hazelnut/horseradish bit came from an idea on the BBC website, no idea why that works.

EDIT: It happened, which was nice! But I forgot my memory card for my camera. Not nice! So I could only take 6 pictures, none of which were any good. Although this picture makes it look like Mila and Jeroen are seriously concerned about something happening in the back of the boat, which I like. And there you have it.

This mackerel recipe was extremely well-received, served on melba toasts. Of course you could use any smoked fish here, but mackerel would be my first choice. I just used mackerel filets from the Dirk.


smoked mackerel, beet, apple, horseradish, hazelnut.

2 smallish smoked mackerel filets, shredded with forks (or really, i guess anything: bullets, chinese stars, whatever you've got around the house to shred with)
1 beet, roasted, peeled, and cubed small
1 granny smith apple, cubed small
1 scallion, chopped fine
juice of one lemon
a few drops of apple vinegar
1 tbsp hazelnut oil, or more to taste (I used the oil from a jar of hazelnut butter, so YMMV)
up to 1 tbsp prepared horseradish
black pepper
tiny, tiny pinch of thyme (not sure this was detectable)
salt to taste



the hits just keep on comin'.

Sorry for all the posts, too much going on in the kitchen. Got a couple of recipes left over that need documenting, they're below.

So, the biggest downside of my diet so far is the lack of sweetness. I don't eat a ton of sweets normally, but when I quit drinking and smoking for more than a couple days I notice an immediate and powerful need to take a walk down to the dessert end of the street. You know, just to see what's up.

Today I bought some stevia, no idea what we'll do with it yet. First impressions: sweet, yes, but there's something strange about which taste buds are recognizing it. Haven't researched this yet.


tuna, beet, kohlrabi, apple vinegar, tarragon.

2 110-gram cans Spanish tuna, drained (150 grams tuna)
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 cup kohlrabi, peeled and cubed small
1 cup beet, roasted, peeled, cubed small
1 to 2 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


arugula and almond pesto.

1 cup almonds, roasted or possibly smoked
4 cups arugula
1/3 cup EVOO
1 large clove garlic
juice of one lemon


and the girls all go freekeh freekeh.

So, as I mentioned, I found the smoked green wheat called firik/freekeh/farik on Monday, after like a two-year casual search. "Casual search" meaning that any time I would see a vaguely Middle Eastern grocer I would check for it, and, as so often happens, it was right under my nose at Interfood, a large halal butcher/grocer on the Groen van Prinstererstraat kind of near De Avondmarkt. They have fresh lamb heads, brains, and hearts in their display case, to give you an idea of their street cred.

And, although firik (this is what the bag I bought calls it, so that's what we'll call it) is not on my diet, you can imagine that I sort of had to make a small batch this morning for tasting purposes. Good news: it's great. Slightly more chewy/toothy than bulgur, but not as much so as spelt, plus? It's smoked. I added salt, a tiny bit of EVOO, and 4 molecules of cinnamon and it was totally good...a perfect addition to the vegetarian/vegan cooking arsenal, and yes, worth the wait.

EDIT: Maybe it will go on my diet after all...here's an article about freekeh's astounding nutritive content.



1/2 cup firik/freekeh/farik
1 1/2 cups water
pinch salt
four molecules cinnamon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Boil water, and wash/rinse freekeh while you wait. Add boiling water, salt, cinnamon, and freekeh to saucepan, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 10 min. Stir in olive oil, eat. Serves 2.


the continuing saga of proefkonijn.

When the Moop returnethd, I must tell you, within 5 minutes of coming upstairs, she had uttered four of the sweetest words I have ever heard in my adult life, TWICE: "The place looks great."

I am not a born cleaner. I am a born messer-upper. The Moop has the weirder blessing/curse of being both. And yet, after one whole day, the apartment still looks pretty great.


Skeleton walks into a bar and says "Gimme a beer and a mop." Smithsonian has a pretty interesting piece by Steve Martin about technique and comedy. I'm completely turned off by how self-congratulatory he sounds (especially considering the mountain of bland, embarrassing pap he's produced since, say...Bowfinger [above]), but hearing him dissect his and others' technique is illuminating, and I'll cut him some slack because Cruel Shoes was a huge influence on my young mind. For educational and illustrative purposes, I present the title story (it's short).


Anna knew she had to have a new pair of shoes today, and Carlo had helped her try on every pair in the store. Carlo spoke wearily, "Well, that's it. That’s every pair of shoes in the place."
"Oh, you must have one more pair. . . .”
"No, not one more . . . . Well, we have the cruel shoes, but no one would want to try . . .
“Yes, let me see the cruel shoes!"
"No, you don't understand, you see, the cruel shoes are . . .'
"Get them!"
Carlo disappeared into the back room for a moment, and then reappeared carrying an ordinary shoebox. He took off the lid and re­moved a hideous pair of black and white pumps. But this was not an ordinary pair of black and white pumps; both were left feet, one had a right angle turn with separate compartments that pointed the toes in impossible directions. The other shoe was six inches long and was curved inward like a rocking chair with a vise and razor blades to hold the foot in place.

Carlo spoke hesitantly, ". . . Now you see . . . they' re not fit for humans . . ."
"Put them on me."
"Put them on me!"
Carlo knew all arguments were useless. He knelt down before her and forced the feet into the shoes.
The screams were incredible.
Anna crawled over to the mirror and held her bloody feet up where she could see.
"I like them."
She paid Carlo and crawled out of the store into the street.
Later that day, Carlo was overheard saying to a new customer, "Well, that's it. That’s every pair of shoes in the place. Unless, of course, you'd like to try the cruel shoes..."


Commence completely boring and perfunctory Diet Update for documentation purposes. Still chugging along. I've added some important things: eggs, for quick, versatile protein and variety; and coffee, for, well...coffee. No detectable downside thus far, though I do need to do a little more reading about coffee and the liver to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the...foot.

Flaxseed update: last night had another good night of taking flaxseed at 11pm, a little late, but was asleep by midnight and awake at 6:30am with no other sleep aid. Pretty good. Still haven't tried any of Stu's palatability suggestions yet, but my mom suggested a nut butter (say it with me: nut butter, nut butter, nut butter), and yes hazelnut butter makes things quite a bit better. I promise not to do these updates every day.

For the rest, I'm adding some freaky touches from Seth Roberts' blog, because, you know, sometimes I just don't seem eccentric enough. For example: I am trying not to sit down during the day. His voluminous research suggests that you will sleep better at night if you remain standing as much as possible while awake.

As anyone with a real job will tell you, "no shit." Not sitting while at home is like having a job in retail without getting paid: you're tired from being on your feet all day. But, there's also evidence to suggest that you think better while standing up and are more likely to undertake unpleasant tasks (wording? I mean vs. avoiding them). And, one thing that's definitely true is that computing kind of sucks standing up, so I'm less likely to spend extra time Googling things that don't need to be Googled in the first place.



back and back and forth and forth.

The Moop hath returneth. And witheth her doth she bringeth: fishes! Smoked haddock caught in Lerwick; Shetland kippers; maple-smoked mackerel.

I had one of the kippers for lunch with an over-easy egg...well, actually, Andy showed up just as I had raised my fork to attack, and he said "kippers!" with such enthusiasm that I gave him my plate. And then I had the other kipper...pretty good.

For dinner, Mara made a kedgeree with the haddock, but one that was within the confines of me diet. It was super-surprisingly unusual and good, I dug the heck out of it.


cauliflower kedgeree.

2 cups roasted cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup roasted onion
1 smoked haddock filet
1 hard-boiled egg
1 tsp good Indian curry powder
1 scallion, diced
1 tbsp butter




I have got to find a more appetizing way to eat this flaxseed. It's just nasty.

The thing about being an accomplished cook (if I do say so myself), and being lucky enough to be surrounded by similarly accomplished friends, is that you almost never have to force yourself to eat something. It's a feeling I remember from somewhere deep in my youth, possibly my dear old Nan's liver and onions, but nonetheless, I can pretty clearly recall a precedent somewhere for this feeling of having no interest in chewing and swallowing what's in your mouth.

So here's the situation. It needs to be ground, and I need to eat it at 10pm, and it can't be accompanied by any carbs. In fact, it needs to be the main caloric component. The amount is 2 tbsp. Please send help.

EDIT: I've been soaking the seeds in hot water and szhooming them up. this is supposed to make them more digestible. But I have a feeling it's making them way more gross as well. Most normal people don't do this: they just grind them fresh and mix them dry with their oatmeal, cereal, bake muffins with it, etc. I am not eating grains. You see the problem.




Of course I'm talking to the weathermen on this side of the world. Rainy all weekend long was the prediction as recently as yesterday.

If you're one of the people who may have invited me out of the house this weekend and I said no I wasn't going anywhere, the fact that I am outside has nothing to do with you, it just happened ("it meant nothing!").

I was up early after an amazing night of sleep, and so I started cleaning, which is my goal for the day. I needed to drop off 4000 dead batteries at the Dirk and take a bag of old clothes (mine, honey, mine) to the, uh, "clothes donation point", can't remember the Dutch, which is a big enclosed dumpster looking thing, so I went outside...

And then I just kept going. It was beautifully sunny, and, since it was supposed to rain all day, I thought I'd sneak in a little bike ride while it wasn't. And so I started off through the Westerpark.

It didn't get any less nice, so I kept going. And kept going, all the way to Sloterdijk.

I really like Sloterdijk on Sundays, it reminds me of my adolescence in suburban Atlanta. Whereas previous generations of kids used to sneak off into the woods to drink, smoke, and fool around, we didn't have any woods. So we used to sneak off into deserted office parks.

This was before workplace shootings, cheap webcams, and cellphones, so security was an entirely different ballgame back then, just some old fat dude in a car with a walkie-talkie and no gun. As long as you avoided him you were OK.

And then I rode home.

And now I'm going to clean.